Charlie Wiegert Fantasy Sports Pioneer

By Emil Kadlec
Emil Kadlec

Charlie started playing fantasy baseball in 1984 when he worked for the sports department of a local newspaper. He ended up winning the league three years straight and also formed his own league. He was also in a league with people who worked at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis and another aerospace company where he met his eventual business partners Brian and Carol Matthews.

They approached him about creating a fantasy baseball contest in 1991. They were software programmers and he of course was very knowledgeable of fantasy baseball so they teamed up and created CDM Inc. The first year the league was called Carol's Fantasy Baseball Challenge and they marketed it with small classified ads in newspapers and magazines around the country.

A lucky break came when Charlie went to the local Sporting News' office in St. Louis to pick up a copy of their basketball magazine where they placed an advertisement for their contest. As he was reviewing the magazine he noticed they forgot to place CDM's ad. However, while he was there, he bumped into Gary Levy and told him he wanted to meet Bill Topaz, saying: "I ran into a guy I was familiar with from playing in a media softball league, Gary Levy. Upon inquiring why I was there, I explained, and told him the guy I really wanted to meet was Bill Topaz, who ran the Sporting News." Ironically Bill was Gary's boss. Gary set up a meeting with them within two weeks. When they met with Bill Topaz they pitch the idea of working together and creating the Sporting News Fantasy Baseball Challenge. By the time they left the meeting that day, the deal was done. They quickly expanded to fantasy football basketball and hockey contests since sporting news had magazines in all four sports.

Charlie helped form the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and was an important person in the fight against MLBAM and MLBPA to give small fantasy companies the ability to use historical data. He was also inaugurated in the FSTA (now FSGA) Hall of Fame in 2001.
Check out the entire Fantasy Sports Pioneer Interview Series.